The human brain can react and interpret visuals more efficiently than text or other learning materials – the ability to read the landscape looking for dangers was more important to our early ancestors than completing the Sunday Times Cryptic Crossword puzzles.

We’ve long known that videos are a great tool for auditory learners who learn best by listening or hearing a discussion. Their effectiveness is not limited to this group, however. Videos can illustrate complex ideas quickly, they also build a visual representation of the context that the information sits in. By subconsciously providing viewers with the real-world application of the information, they can interpret how to practically apply it in day-to-day life.

Why Video? Why Now?

In 2020 estimates show that 82% of all Internet traffic was for streaming sites like YouTube and Netflix. National lockdowns drove people online to fill knowledge gaps. Want to know how to grow vegetables on your patio? Not sure why your washing machine won’t complete a spin cycle? Google it and you’ll get tens of results with the answer to your question. YouTube will even suggest segments within a video with the information you need.

As demand for these educational videos increases, the next step for any learning strategy now needs to be how to make information in learning videos memorable. Let’s look at how human senses and the use of emotion can make videos more effective.

Activate the Senses

A lot of learning comes from experience, and we rarely experience something with just one sense.

Have you ever heard the following ancient Chinese proverb:

“When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I understand.”


Clearly, a learner watching a video is using two senses – listening to narration or music as well as watching filmed footage on the screen. As they listen and watch, their brain is trying to contextualise the information being shared with what they already know.

Top Tips

  • Ensure that visual and auditory information is cohesive. If a presenter is talking about a car engine, make sure there is imagery of the engine onscreen.
  • Accept only the best quality for visual and audio elements. Grainy footage or static-filled audio creates a barrier to learning as viewers have to work harder to process the information being presented.
  • Encourage users to look at the video as well as watch it. If a user has to look at a frame or scene to notice something, they are forced actively to pay more attention and engage more parts of the brain than just watching and listening.
  • Create a video, not a movie. Learning is already challenging enough for the best of us, so our attention going in can already be at risk. Keeping informative videos as short as can be can aid this. These days people want the information now and quickly, so adapting this idea into punchy and exciting videos can be just the edge you need.
  • Encourage learners to repeat information back in their own words. Once a learner gets to the end of a video, encourage them to summarise the information they have learnt, either by writing it down or explaining it to another colleague.
  • Keep it consistent. Every person is tuned into the recognition of consistency more than we think. Seeing clashing styles within one piece of work, whatever the medium, can give the indication of low-end and tacky. Keep the visuals and audio style inline and on theme with each other.

Trigger Emotions

Do not underestimate the impact that emotion has on our ability to learn. Emotions have been shown to have a substantial impact on cognitive processes such as perception, attention span, reasoning and problem-solving.

It’s almost too obvious to state but how easy do you find it to focus on learning a new skill if you’re stressed out (struggling with insomnia, worries about illness in your family, the car wouldn’t start this morning…). Contrast this with how readily you remember key details of that TV show you excitedly binge-watched. At every stage of production, from script to music, this show was designed to take you on an emotional rollercoaster and get you excited to watch the next episode.

  • Use appropriate visual and audible shorthand. Certain sounds, music, imagery, iconography or colours have become culturally associated with a specific emotion, item or theme e.g. showing a convertible vehicle on an expansive country road in the sunshine communicates a sense of freedom.
  • Don’t make a commercial. People are constantly bombarded by advertising and will switch off if a message seems forced. Be compelling and genuine.
  • Don’t make it about you. Nobody likes to be stuck in conversation with someone who can make everything about them. Design the script around how the information will benefit the learner and how they need to use that information.
  • Change it up. Use different shot angles and focal points to make the content feel dynamic. Pause, switch to slo-mo or even switch locations in time with the background music. These changes can re-attract a learner’s wandering attention and pull them back into the video.
  • Strike a balance with music: The best piece of music for a video should be present but not overwhelm the message. Don’t let the music overpower sections where key information is being shared and use it to fill gaps between topics.

If people are at the heart of your organisation, and you need to help them manage change, why not email the team here at RTS Group and find out how we can support you?

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